For clients interested in culture and pilgrimage, 2021 marks Xacobeo, the next official Holy Year in Spain and on the Camino de Santiago, according to The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
For centuries, thousands have walked the Way, reaching the city of Santiago de Compostela and entering its iconic cathedral at the end of their journey to visit the tomb of St. James, on the UNESCO World Heritage Camino de Santiago.
How did it start?
The discovery of the remains of Saint James the Apostle, around 820AD, marked the beginning of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. King Alphonso II ordered the construction of a small church on the site of the discovery and the news spread among the community of believers of the western world.
The Way of St. James gave rise to an extraordinary amount of animated activity over the centuries. The first major network of assistance arose out of the Way and it provided the setting for the creation of cathedrals, monasteries, towns and cities, which are now recognized and protected for their cultural value.
What happens during a Holy Year?
The Xacobeo Holy Year is an event of exceptional public interest, as it is only celebrated when the feast of St. James (July 25) falls on a Sunday. This happens at varying intervals and occasionally we have to wait up to 11 years to celebrate the next Holy Year.
To commemorate it, the route of St James will be full of events, including concerts, art exhibitions, films, conferences and educational activities for all ages. The celebrations will kick off with a unique event: the opening of the “Holy Door” of the Cathedral of Santiago.
This historic door opens in the afternoon of every December 31st that precedes the start of a holy year. A large ecclesiastical retinue gathers in the main square, led by the Archbishop of Compostela who is in charge of the opening, following an ancient ritual.
Watch this unique tradition live on Dec. 31 from 11am-2pm (EST), on this link from the Galician Television (TVG) YouTube channel: